It’s still not precisely known what is causing the steady rise in autism diagnosis. "There has certainly been an increase in awareness, and that drives families toward earlier action.it drives them to ask questions at earlier ages, and it also increases the probability of detection," Rob Ring, chief science officer with the nonprofit autism speaks, told. "We also know that surveillance itself is improving. Groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics have instituted guidelines for screening, which increase the chances of picking up kids who have been missed previously."
The diagnostic criteria for autism has changed over the years, most recently with the release of dsm-5 the so-called "bible" of modern psychiatry. Among other things, the new edition of the DSM has folded Asperger’s syndrome into the broader category of ASD. "We know that risk factors such as increasing parental age are likely adding modestly to increases as well. Science continues to reveal interesting interactions between genetics and the environment," said ring. “Earlier diagnosis has got to be a priority."
Notably, the new report found that most children tend to be diagnosed after age 4, despite advances that have made it possible for diagnosis to happen as early as age 2. that figure suggests that too many children are "missing out on the trans formative benefits on outcomes that early intervention offers,"
Autism is a spectrum disorder though it is generally thought to be a combination of genetic and non-genetic factors. Coleen Boyle, director of the CDC's national center on birth defects and developmental disabilities said, “community leaders, health professionals, educators and childcare providers should use these data to ensure children with ASD are identified as early as possible and connected to the services they need."
For more information visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) www.cdc.gob. Visit the web page of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) www.nichd.nih.gov or National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) www.ninds.nih.gov